Emergency times and rules to survive them

Yes, we are also in the situation produced by some disasters; but now I refer to the emergency as the power that goes from the bottom up. To the emerging systemsThe wars between governments and speculators or between supporters of the dollar and the euro, wars in which we are only pieces on a large chessboard.

There is now talk of a double-dip recessionThe first is a perpetual recession, and the second is a revolution in the making. Since I don't feel like arguing with my friend Seth GodinI don't get involved there, but I do get involved in the engines of change, which, not to be original, I insist are collaboration and transparency.

Hierarchies are dying between our hands, nobody doubts that if the Catholic Church had been born democratic it would not have lasted 2,000 years,... or even 20, probably. Hierarchies are very stable forms, and will continue to have their place in institutions where stability is critical, sectors such as: clergy, military or banking can be examples. Not so in the rest, where the hierarchies are gradually imposing themselves. emerging systemsself-managed communities, networks,... or whatever we want to call them. And these systems succeed because they are more efficient, because they take advantage of waste, because they generate synergies based on transparency and collaboration.

The Internet is not just another fertile platform, but a new kind of platform. Think of the living platforms that create coral reefs:

Of the approximately 48,000 recognized vertebrate species, more than half are fish. Of these, more than 60 percent live exclusively in marine environments. Although coral reefs make up less than one percent of the total area of the world's oceans, approximately half of all known marine fish species are concentrated in these shallow tropical waters.


The Internet makes it possible to create new atolls, with new life forms that feed on the waste of others, that protect or are protected by others,... in short, that collaborate, whether they are aware of it or not.

Knowledge is now more bottom-up than top-down; the new phenomena are self-organizing, there is no leader, there is no queen ant who directs them. Their behavior can be predicted, although to do so it is not a matter of following the leader, but of seeing the individuals, the space they occupy and the few rules that govern it as a whole, almost as a living organism, coherent and with a common purpose, individuals who are directed towards a communal good.

Obviously, within the system, leaders will emerge little by little, leaders who do not nominate themselves, but are chosen by the Community,... and the Community always chooses those who bring the most value to the group. But now we are in the revolutionary phase, in the emerging phase and those leaders have not yet consolidated, and perhaps they will never consolidate.

Imagine now that you go to the park, take a few ants and put them in a closed container with food, let them go and build its people and you observe them. They have very few rules, and very few forms of communication, but they exchange information many times a day and in this way they generate collective knowledge and materialize it in a living space. They reproduce, a queen appears, who is only a queen to the extent that she is the only one capable of reproducing; and the new ants learn from the accumulated collective knowledge.

This leads us to three conclusions when we are the ones designing a new system to be governed by the emergency:

1. The importance of the rules we set. They must be few, clear and their possible future consequences must be well thought out. Facebook cannot tell its users what they have to do there, but it can set some simple rules (I think there should not be more than 10) to behave there. The millions of interactions following these rules have shaped Facebook as it is. The original rules are transformed into behaviors accepted by the members of the Community in first, second, third, and successive derivatives; but they are always based on the initial ones added to the behaviors of the members and the environment in which they live. The rules must be simple to allow the users to be the ones who build the community. Too many rules generate insecurity, too few rules also generate insecurity.

2. The first settlers will mark the future of the system; if they are aggressive we will have a system full of conflicts, if they are too quiet they will make a system with little innovation,... They must have the ability to attract new users, this is charisma; they must be proactive and have a sense of belonging to the tribe, attitude and sense that will infect and serve as a filter for the entry of new settlers. Think that Facebook was almost empty back in 2007 when it started to become popular. We filled it up little by little so that today, when you sign up, you find it and you can find the e-mails in your address book, and it appears, as if by magic, full of content and people you know.

3. A flexible, friendly site with its own personality. Gradually, users will draw it in detail, but the initial designer can and should create a place that encourages everyone to express themselves as they are, and that the group itself feels good there. Initial contours are drawn flexible and porous, and focus on an initial theme, on a point of agreement among the first settlers.

So, if you are creating a social network: set few, simple and well thought out rules; choose and win over good people to beta test; and finally, create a flexible and friendly environment for them to interact.


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